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Cheap Mortgage Finding ‘Broker plus’ technique cuts costs

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Getting the right mortgage or remortgage deal can save you £100s. But ask your own bank or building society and it'll just try to flog mortgages from its very limited range, making it pot luck whether you get a good deal.

To beat this, we've built two techniques to quickly check the WHOLE market for free, and find the best deal for you.

We've just done a big update to this guide. We know there's lots of great knowledge among our readers, so please suggest any changes or questions in the Cheap Mortgage Finding discussion.

Mortgage finding need-to-knows

Arm yourself with a free mortgage guide!

This guide is about how to find the cheapest mortgage deal, not about the decisions you need to take to decide what type you need. And while advisers are helpful, the final decision is always yours, and you should understand it fully.

To help, there are two detailed MoneySaving mortgage guides: one for first-time buyers and the other for those looking for a cheaper deal. Both are available either as a free printed guide sent by post, or as an instant PDF download.

Benchmark a top mortgage rate

Before starting, you need a quick idea of what's available so you know if what a broker's offering is a good deal or not. First, existing mortgage holders should see what their current lender's best deal is.

After that, and for new borrowers, the web's a powerhouse for benchmarking a good deal. Use these comparisons to find what's available with your deposit and intended property value.

The top online mortgage information sources
Comparison services
(interactive mortgage picking services)
MoneySupermarket*, Google*, Moneyfacts,
The Money Advice Service

Best buy tables
(simple lists of top products, much quicker, but less tailored)
Savills, London & Country

How to find the cheapest mortgage

The crux here is that you want to cover every mortgage lender to find the mortgage that suits you best. There are two ways to do this - the first takes a little more work but is free, while the second charges a fee but should be slightly easier.

Both ways require using a broker, and below we explain how to find the one that suits you. The route you choose depends on where the balance lies for you between cost and hassle.

The questions to ask every mortgage broker

Mortgage brokers scour the market to find you a good mortgage deal. By using one, not only do you swiftly cover a huge slew of lenders, but a broker gives added clout with lenders to ease your acceptance and an extra layer of protection if things go wrong.

It's most important to find a broker you're comfortable with. The estate agents you meet when house hunting will often recommend brokers. They may even work from the same office. But crucially, you're not tied into using these, even if you buy via that estate agent.

Ask friends who've moved for recommendations - many local brokers are fantastic. The aim's to find you the best broker for the lowest possible price. But not all brokers are the same. Some are limited in what they can offer you, so there are three crucial questions to ask.

Independent doesn't actually mean it's independent..!

The top UK mortgage brokers

Now you know what you are looking for, as we can't review every mortgage broker in the UK, we've concentrated on some of the big ones that have nationwide scope, plus ways to find smaller brokers. Similarly, if you have any doubts about a broker, find a different one - there's nothing wrong with talking to several before you settle on one.

London & Country

Fees-free, 'whole of market'*London & Country mortgages

  • How do I speak to them? Phone only
  • What lenders will they check? Officially 'whole of market', but misses some biggies
  • Cost: FREE

Specialist phone broker London & Country* never charges a fee, and is a regulated 'whole of market' broker. This means it will check the vast majority of lenders, but for total coverage you will need to check the remaining ones yourself.

L&C has been a top pick on MSE for many years, and we have received consistently strong feedback from people who have used it. If you've used L&C, please let us know about your experiences.

The advantage of only dealing with lenders who make deals available through brokers is that L&C will be able to help you through the whole process, in terms of filling in forms, information and support. The brokers you deal with may also tell you about mortgages from lenders they can't deal with, but there's no absolute guarantee this will happen.

First Direct

EVERY UK lender checked (up to £399 fee if you apply)Which? Mortgage Advisers

  • How do I speak to them? Phone only
  • What lenders will they check? Every UK lender
  • Cost: £399 (£199 paid on application if you apply through Which? Mortgage Advisers, then £200 on completion)

Consumer organisation Which? has set up the Which? Mortgage Advisers service, which offers a phone-based broker service for £399. For the fee, it guarantees to check all lenders' deals, even if they are not normally available through brokers - so this includes perennially cheaper providers such as HSBC, Post Office, ING Direct and Tesco.

The flipside is that Which? won't be able to transact these deals for you - if it tells you about a deal where it can't handle the paperwork, and you decide to go ahead, you'll be on your own.

Also, we have hardly any feedback on this service so far. Even though Which? itself is a big name, there's no guarantee of how this will all work. So if you use it, please tell us your experiences.

The first £199 is paid when Which? Mortgage Advisers helps you apply for a mortgage, so beware that if something went wrong and you didn't complete the application, then that cash would be lost. You then need to pay another £200 on completion (£100 for Which? members).

Find an IFA

Face-to-face advicefind a good local mortgage broker

  • How do I speak to them? Face-to-face usually
  • What lenders will they check? It depends on the one you find
  • Cost: Varies massively, always check.

If you prefer face to face, try to find a local broker that offers it fees-free; there should be quite a few. Websites like Unbiased.co.uk or VouchedFor both list brokers. You could ask a friend or even use the phone book - but it's crucial you know what you're getting.

Give them a call, and ask the three questions in the picking a broker section to ensure they fit your bill. Make sure each broker you look at can advise from the whole of the market, and is fees-free (if that's what you're looking for)

For those wanting a more informal route, this website's forum includes a large Mortgage Board where some helpful mortgage brokers voluntarily answer questions - it's an easy non-committal starting option.

Many are fees-free, whole-of-market mortgage brokers, so if they do help you, there is no reason not to ask them to sort your mortgage for you (always ask them the three questions first, though).

However, as always, the golden rule is to seek more than one opinion before deciding.

Don't miss what's happening to mortgage rates Get MoneySavingExpert's free weekly email

Got credit problems? No need to go specialist - use the brokers above

You can check more than one broker, to find all exclusive deals

Can you get cashback? You'll need to haggle with your broker

Check mortgage lenders that brokers miss

Sadly, some lenders have retreated from the broker market to cut costs and avoid paying commission. They fall into two camps: some simply don't allow brokers to access any of their deals, while others reserve a portion of their deals for direct sales only.

If you went with a broker that promises to tell you about all deals on the market, whether they get paid for them or not, this part should already have been done. It may be worth using a double check, but it's likely you've already found the best deal for you.

If you used a standard whole-of-market broker, it only has to look at the mortgages available to it, so while some whole-of-market brokers (including the ones mentioned above) will tell you if you can get a better deal available by going direct to a lender, there is no regulation forcing them to do this.

So for belt and braces, compare its best result (for how to compare see the Mortgage or Remortgage Guides) to the three types of mortgages it may not have included:

  • Lenders that don't operate through brokers.
    The main ones are Barclays Direct (formerly ING Direct), Tesco Bank, Post Office, HSBC and First Direct. Plus the Yorkshire Building Society and Britannia don't pay brokers a fee, and while true whole of market brokers should include them in a comparison and signpost you to them, they don't have to offer to transact them for you.

  • Lenders that don't offer all their deals through brokers.
    This is where it gets tricky, and you'll really need to do some legwork. A few lenders, including Nationwide and Halifax, now put some deals through brokers and offer some only direct, just to show there's nothing like keeping things simple!

    This in itself isn't that new, but a recent trend is that the direct deals can be much more competitive (though not always!). Usefully, MoneySupermarket* and Google's* mortgage comparisons list the best deals for you, and then tell you if they're available through brokers or only direct.

    Moneyfacts and the Money Advice Service mortgage searches also include most branch-only direct deals from lenders in their tables, so are great starting points to see if you can beat the broker deals.

  • Exclusive deals from other brokers.
    In the final category are the deals which are available exclusively through other brokers, as they sometimes negotiate their own deals with lenders. Hopefully by trying a few brokers in the first place, you'll have already been through these.

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What the * means above

In the main body of the article two types of links are listed. The first, which all have a * within the main body of the articles, help MoneySavingExpert.com stay free to use, as they're 'affiliated links' which invisibly take you usually via affiliate linkage or commercial money sites, which then pay this site. This is up to £15 if after doing a comparison you choose to apply for a mortgage or 0.1% of the mortgage, if you complete through Charcol.

The second type doesn't help and therefore doesn't have a *. You shouldn't notice any difference (if you do please let us know) and the editorial line (the things we write) is NEVER impacted by the revenue - we aim to look at all available products. If it isn't possible to get an affiliate link for the best product, it is still included in exactly the same way. For more details read how this site is financed.

Duplicate links of the * links above for the sake of transparency, but this version doesn't help MoneySavingExpert.com: Google, London & Country, Moneysupermarket

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